Parenting is the hardest job in the world and the worst part is there is never a guarantee that you are doing the right thing. Parenting a biracial child can be even harder. When your child looks different to you and different from your partner you may find yourself constantly having to explain yourself and your family, and if you are having to explain yourself you can be sure that your child is too. There is no rulebook, no fool proof guide but there are a few things that you can know to make life a little easier for you and your child.
1. Your Kids Will See Color Very Early On. We all know that racism is not a genetic condition. No human is born to hate. As we grow we are taught to notice the differences in others whether this be skin color, hair color, weight or anything else. Most children born to two parents of the same race won’t notice these differences straight away especially if they live in an area that is predominately resided in by their own race. However, biracial children will begin to notice differences almost immediately because the two people that look after them, love them and teach them look completely different to each other. Start the communication on this topic from a young age. Explain to them about race and culture and let them know that they are extremely lucky to be a part of more than one.
2. They Will Be Faced with Many Questions from Their Peers. I myself have a pretty dark skin tone, my mum is white and not just white she is extremely pale and ginger. When my friends from school met my mum they were often confused as to how I could be her daughter when I am so dark and she is so pale. Many of them asked me if I was adopted and that was quite upsetting to me as a child. You need to prepare your child to be able to respond to these questions. This is even more important if you have more than one child and your children have different skin tones as is very common with biracial children.
3. Self-identity is Highly Important. Your child will be forced to form their self-identity before children that are from a single race. If you look to the psychologist Erikson for guidance you will see that children are expected to enter the stage of forming self-identity around the ages of 16-18. However, you will likely find that your own child will begin this process far before this. Most teenagers are extremely selfish and introspective beings. Don’t get me wrong this is not a criticism! They need to be like this and it is important for their self-development. However, being biracial and therefore different to the norm forces biracial children to look outside themselves at an early stage. It forces them to compare themselves with their peers from a young age and attempt to find where they fit in. Don’t be scared if your child seems to mature very quickly. They will find their way and all you need to do is support them.
4. They May Regularly Switch Their Race Allegiance. This is again related to the self-identity issue. It takes time and understanding for a biracial child to fully identify as biracial and to embrace the gift they have been given. As they grow you may find that they switch the race they identify with often. One day they may decide to be just like mummy and the next day they might want to be just like daddy. This is normal and it’s nothing for you to worry about. It’s important for you to let them explore both sides of themselves without criticism or complaint.
5. Ignorance is not Bliss. We might be living in an age where racism is more simmering below the surface than out in the open, but it still exists and prejudice in all its forms still exists. Rather than ignoring the subject and hoping that your children never encounter adversity such as this explain it to them. Talk to them about stereotypes and about prejudice and teach them that judging anyone is never ok. Judging someone for their skin colour, their hair colour, their religion, weight or even the size of their nose is never ok. They will experience prejudice at least once in their life, it may not be towards them, it may not be too serious but it will be there and they should have the knowledge to be able to deal with it.